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Finding the right mix of entertainment/peace in Belize

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12/4/2011 16:25 EST

My wife and I are in the begining stages of considering a move to Belize. We have looked into a number of other countries but keep coming back to the idea of living in Belize.

I am 45 and will retire in five years. My wife is younger than I, 25. We would like to make our move in 5 to 7 years. We plan on making our first trip to Belize in 2012 and making a yearly trip until it is time to pack up and move for good.

Because of our age difference my wife would obviously like to work. She is a vet tech. I on the other hand would be happy just doing odd jobs. I deffinately won't be able to sit still for very long. So I would like to hear from anyone about the possibilities of work in Belize. I know there are restrictions.

Also, we enjoy our peace and quiet but would like to find some place where we could go out for a night on the town if we wanted to. Again this is more important to her than me but I love her and a happy wife makes a happy life :) Any ideas on places were that might fit our lifestyle?

Unlike many we do not intend on buying property in Belize. At least not at this time. We would prefer to rent just for the convience of knowing that if we decided to return to the states or live somewhere else we could do so with the burden of trying to sell property and maintaining it in our abense. Good idea or not?

How do expats do their banking? Seems like many use a local bank and a bank in the states. Other ideas? I will have a descent retirement income but am wondering if I will really need all of it while in Belize. I only want to have what I need to live on but access to my funds if needed.

Then there is the question of crime. I have been in law enforcement for over 20 years and high crime to me is likely different from others. Even the safest town in the US has its crimes. I live in a wonderful and safe community but recently we experienced a rash of daytime burglaries. I can read crime stats was well as the next guy but what I want to know is what others experiences have been, or maybe lack of experiences. For example, I live in a peaceful, affluent community with a low crime rate. Yet I have had my vehicle broken into once in five years and my truck vandalized twice. It pisses me off but I don't see it as a high crime rate.

Finally. I speak really bad Spanish but can understand it passibly well. It has gotten me by in situations where no one spoke English. My wife can order at Taco Bell but that is her limit. How big a deal is language going to be? Should I invest in Rosetta Stone for

Thanks for your input. Shawn and Kellie

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12/5/2011 13:10 EST

Hi Shawn & Kelly. Wow, you have a lot of questions. First, you really need to know that Belize is an English speaking country, so learning Spanish is not necessary. Sure, there are lots of locals who speak it, but by and large, they all speak English too, as they are educated to do so in school, so you'll be fine.

Depending on your personal circumstances, you may or may not need a local bank account here (this is an issue I work through with my Expat Relocation Consulting clients).

I would not plan on getting a job in Belize, as the government does not readily approve work permits, but rather, plan on starting or buying a business instead, if you feel you must work.

Your age would qualify you for the QRP, but not your girlfriend, so residency is going to be an issue for the two of you to decide how you want to handle that.

There are several locations that would suit both of your needs (you'll want to visit), and I always tell expats to not buy anything for at least the first year here, so glad to hear you won't be doing that.

In terms of crime, you are spot on about it. It exists here and you'll need to take common sense precautions to avoid being a target, but there are no guarantees. I lived in Oakland, CA, so I feel safer here in San Ignacio Town than I ever did there.

I hope you've found some of this useful. Good luck!

Sharon Hiebing

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12/6/2011 02:08 EST

Thanks Sharon,

Inquisative by nature :) Its the detective in me.

I was under the impression that under the QRP only one of us had to be 45 and we had to meet the income requirement. Not so?

Would love some suggestions on places so that we can maximize our time in Belize.

And is owning a business not considered work to the government?

Thanks for your time.


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12/6/2011 09:06 EST

Hi Shawn! Sorry, I thought you had said girlfriend, not wife. Then yes, she could be your dependent in the program, which costs an additional $750 usd over and above the other program costs.

No, owning a business is ok on the QRP. If you're not in the QRP, then you'll need a self-employed work permit until you apply and get approved for Permanent Residency, which the government is ok with giving out. But to get a work permit to get a job - very, very hard to get approved for.

So many areas you could consider-I'd have to work more closely with you to determine which would be best suited for you, your lifestyle, and your budget. Thanks! Sharon

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12/15/2011 16:13 EST

I'm assuming your wife wants to work for the satisfaction not the money. If true, than she can find lots of volunteer opportunities since almost every area in Belize has active SPCA type organizations. Getting a work permit is a real hassle and quite expensive and 'NO' you can't work on a retirement/dependent visa.

Second issue is permanent residency. As was mentioned above, you have to be 'in country' for a full year before you can even apply. That's a little tricky since you can only get a 30 day tourist visa. You can normally have it renewed twice (at the nearest Immigration Office) with no problem but ofter that it can get tricky. You have to leave the country (for less than 14 days during the calendar year) I think for 72 hours then reenter Belize and start the 30 day - 30 day - 30 day process all over again.

You don't need an attorney to get residency and be VERY CAREFUL of anyone who claims they can get you residency for a fee. What you need is tons of patience and a willingness to travel to Belmopan often. It took us 5 years and a zillion visits to Immigration in Belmopan to get residency. Lots of paper pushing and incorrect info.

Honestly and truthfully I think your very young wife will be bored silly in Belize. Almost no cultural scene,no shopping, and very limited evening entertainment (great restaurants and bars!) but not much else.

Have you considered Panama????

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